Yahoo asked military service members, veterans and others to react to Bradley Manning's acquittal on charges that he aided the enemy when he leaked classified government documents. Manning, a former U.S. Army soldier arrested in 2010, was found guilty of lesser charges on Tuesday. Here's one perspective.
COMMENTARY | As a 23-year-veteran of the Air Force, I'm fine with the Bradley Manning verdict.
From what I've seen, I felt he would be acquitted of the charge of aiding the enemy, since that is difficult to prove. However, Pfc. Manning did steal secrets, so he is definitely guilty of espionage and theft. The secrets he stole were stored on a government computer, hence the computer fraud charges.
I can understand the strong desire to expose perceived wrong-doing. Manning took an oath and was read into a top-secret position of trust. He swore he wouldn't divulge any information he became privy to and was told what could happen to him if he did. Manning willingly broke his word and the law. I know this because I've signed that same paperwork countless times over the years.
With this in mind, I cannot sympathize with him. Manning was put in a position of trust and responsibility, and he lacked the correct attributes for the job. He broke his word and hurt America in an incalculable way.
Is Manning a traitor or whistleblower? Downloading more than 700,000 documents to WikiLeaks isn't the action of a man who discovered a couple of ugly secrets and wanted to expose them. He downloaded a massive amount of classified on a wide range of subjects. This suggests he grabbed anything that had an interesting title. He may have started out wanting to expose an ugly secret, but he got foolishly wild and sloppy. He also showed a horrible lack of judgment. I have to think he is a petty young man who naively committed terribly traitorous acts. A whistleblower brings wrong-doings to the proper authorities; he doesn't pass them along to the open market.
Incidents like this highlight a number of problems. Security protocols were both ignored and circumvented. How this happened in a room full of soldiers is something the Army needs to further investigate. Manning showed several signs of distress that his co-workers and supervisory chain missed, underlining the fact that his chain of command didn't step in to help him.
Between Pfc. Bradley Manning's weak principles, his co-workers' lack of interest, and his supervisor's complacency, this was bound to happen eventually. A strong and harsh sentence will hopefully dissuade others from doing similarly foolish things.
A 23-year military veteran, Mark Murphy's career has included satellite communications, housing hundreds of junior enlisted personnel, helping train F-22 pilots, developing and monitoring government contracts and even performing courier duties with the Air Force and U.S. State Department.
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